PIAGGIO MP3 400 LT (2009 - on) Review

At a glance

Power: 34 bhp
Seat height: Medium (30.9 in / 785 mm)
Weight: High (558 lbs / 253 kg)

Prices

New £6,499
Used N/A

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The biggest yet of Piaggio’s peculiar MP3s has an identity crisis. It looks like a scooter but the law classes it the same as a Reliant Robin three-wheeler car. Because Piaggio has added a footbrake and widened the space between the front wheels by 45mm, to 465mm, it falls into category B1 on European driving licences, defined as ‘three or four wheeled vehicles with an unladen weight not exceeding 550kg’. The category is granted automatically to anyone with a bike or car licence so someone who’s never even sat on a motorcycle can legally ride an MP3 LT. They don’t even need to wear a helmet. Probably just as well then that Piaggio is offering buyers free Compulsory Basic Training. Happily the confusion is only on paper. Riding the MP3 LT it becomes clear it’s a competent, comfortable but expensive maxi-scooter - with a twist.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Different. Don’t expect it to ever feel quite like a bike or two-wheeled scooter. You’re constantly aware while riding it of those two leaning front wheels. Their effect is that it’s nearly impossible to low-side. Even when the front end slides, the MP3 LT will under-steer like a car instead of going down. That inspires confidence by the spade-full and makes for quite a lot of fun. Riders who would never dream of grounding the centre-stand on a conventional scooter will manage it without breaking sweat on this. Ride comfort should easily be good enough to make long distances a doddle.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The 398.9cc four-stroke single will power the MP3 LT to an indicated 100mph without too much trouble but don’t expect a white-knuckle ride on the way. Acceleration is fairly sedate at all times, even by maxi-scooter standards. Yamaha’s 500cc T Max, which makes 9bhp more, would comfortably beat the MP3 LT in a traffic light grand prix. As with most large twist-and-gos, throttle response is slightly delayed. It’s more a case of twist and wait.  

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Some of the plastics feel cheep. Turn the ignition key a certain way and a hatch between the rider’s knees should pop up to reveal the fuel filler cap but on our test model it didn’t quite work. The catch would release but the hatch still had to be prized open. Piaggio doesn’t enjoy the reputation for reliability of its Japanese rivals so time will tell.  

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
2 out of 5 (2/5)

Okay, it’s quite clever, but is it really worth nearly £3,000 more than a Kawasaki Ninja 250R? As a three-wheeler the MP3 LT also doesn’t automatically qualify for financial benefits granted to bikes. At the time of writing Piaggio was waiting for a decision on exemption from London’s £8-a-day congestion charge. It’s priced in-line with the competition. Yamaha’s TMax is only £500 less and that only has one front wheel. But perhaps that means all large scooters are too expensive. Find a Piaggio MP3 400 for sale.

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

It has everything you might expect from a big scooter - except the luggage space. It’s got a connected under-seat compartment and boot but neither was big enough to accommodate our tester’s full-face Shark helmet. Like its smaller brothers, the 125 and 250cc MP3s, it’s got a handlebar switch which locks the front wheels in position when stationary so there’s no need to use the centre-stand. Flick the handlebar switch again or simply twist the throttle and they unlock. Piaggio has made it idiot proof by adding a sensor in the seat which stops this happening if you’re not sitting on it. With a bit of practice it’s actually possible to stop and start without putting your feet down. The footbrake, linked to front and rear, works fine but seems pointless and in the way after a while. It’s right where you want to put your foot for a bit extra leg room. Tall riders may find the screen a bit on the low side. Buy parts and accessories for the Piaggio MP3 LT in the MCN Shop.

Specs

Engine size 399cc
Engine type single cylinder four-stroke, CVT transmission
Frame type Tubular steel double cradle
Fuel capacity 12 litres
Seat height 785mm
Bike weight 253kg
Front suspension none
Rear suspension Preload
Front brake 2 x 240mm discs
Rear brake 240 mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 12
Rear tyre size 140/70 x 14

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 46 mpg
Annual road tax £44
Annual service cost -
New price £6,499
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term -

Top speed & performance

Max power 34 bhp
Max torque 27.7 ft-lb
Top speed 100 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 147 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

n/a

Other versions

Piaggio MP3 250
Piaggio MP3 125

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